Alberto Callaspo and the Art of the Quality At-Bat

Live from New York: due to the vageries of MLB scheduling, the Mariners had to buzz back through the Bronx on Monday for a make-up date with the Yankees. The Yankees would have preferred to defer: Felix Hernandez’ turn was up, and despite one hiccup inning where he gave up five hits but only two runs, the King then mowed down the next 9 pinstripers in a row for a win and kept his ERA, miraculously, exactly the same at 2.57.

That same night, a career night for a player on the other New York squad, the Mets. Young Wilmer Flores had six RBI as the Mets kicked the stuffing out of the Phillies in their own park for the fourth time in five games; Flores’ presence has invigorated the shortstop position as he and Panamanian Ruben Tejada battle it out. (I found a new VZ player in this series: up and coming Philly second baseman Cesar Hernandez; as the Phillies age in the middle infield, he may rise in prominence in the coming seasons).

Tuesday, the man I dubbed Shutout Alvarez lived up to his name. Henderson Alvarez of Miami pitched his third complete-game shutout of the season against cross-state interleague rivals Tampa Bay and extended his current shutout streak to 21 innings. It took only 88 pitches to dispatch the Rays; Alvarez induced 3 groundball double plays and struck out five. It makes me nervous to write this, but the last guy we wrote about on this page who had such a streak was Guanare man Martin Perez of Texas, whose 26-inning whitewash streak was later superceded by the news that he will undergo Tommy John surgery and will not be back this season.

On Tuesday I had the privilege of seeing a game in person at Yankee Stadium, and while the sizzle of the A’s victory came on two monster home runs by DH Brandon Moss, Alberto Callaspo quietly worked a very important two-out walk in the eighth inning, after falling behind 0-2, and then scored the tying run on a double by pinch hitter Stephen Vogt. That led to the A’s 10th-inning victory; a walk doesn’t even count as an official at-bat, but Callaspo’s patient at-bats are a crucial part of the Oakland lineup; he can also play a few different positions and manned first base in this game.  (Wednesday update: In another come-from-behind win over the Yankees, Callaspo’s sacrifice fly tied the game in the sixth; another unofficial at-bat key to the victory).

I had not seen VZ rookie Yangervis Solarte play in person yet; the Yankees stuck him at second base this game and he acquitted himself well in the field and at the plate, where he sticks close to .300 while hitting to all fields. For the hundreds of millions they invested in free agents over the winter, Solarte may be the most important pickup of the off season for NYY.

A big night for Venezuelan Omar Infante in Kansas City; he scored after his 9th inning double to win  the game for the visiting Royals. He and Alcides Escobar turned two double plays in the win over St. Louis and Escobar had a triple and one RBI in the second game against their cross-state rival in a rematch of the famous I-70 1985 World Series. In fact, Escobar drove in catcher Salvador Perez with the lucky, game tying seventh run in the eighth inning to set up Infante’s heroics. (Wednesday update: the series moved to Kansas City, where the Royals lost but Escobar had two more hits and his 16th stolen base).

2B Jose Altuve continues his all-star pace at Houston; he’s hitting .316 but is completely under the radar with the last-place Astros.

In an interleague victory over Milwaukee, Eduardo Escobar (.304) and Oswaldo Arcia of Minnesota each went 0-4 but, both are mainstays for the struggling Twins. (Wednesday update: Arcia had his third homer, 4 RBI in Minnesota’s second straight win over Milwaukee). We haven’t written about Francisco Rodriguez recently, as he plateau-ed at 17 saves, but K-rod got an inning of mop-up work to stay sharp in the Brew Crew’s loss. The big man from Caracas hasn’t had a save since May 16.

Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez went on the DL with a dislocated finger. He’s had lingering finger (say that fast three times) problems this season.

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About vzbaseball

Writer, Musician, Baseball Fanatic. Lonely Planet, Fodor's, scouring the nation and globe for stories. Big fish, small pond.
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